Saving Dad This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

With dusk settling on the backyard, the only sound is the pat, pat of the basketball on concrete. Swish. My shot falls gracefully through the tattered net. The game is twenty-one and my dad and I are battling out a close finish.

Dad hands me the ball and I drive hard to the basket and attempt a tough lay-up. The ball falls short, but my dad doesn’t hustle for the rebound. I guiltily recall my elbow making contact with his chest on the lay-up, and I can tell he is holding back an enormous yelp of pain. I ask him what happened, but he shrugs and goes inside.

A few days later, Dad comes to me with a somber look on his face and says he went to a doctor about the pain in his chest. He has breast cancer. I give him a quizzical look, to which he ­responds, “Yes, guys can get breast cancer too.”

I was shocked; cancer is a destroyer of families and a taker of lives. My dad couldn’t have breast cancer; he is my Superman. My mom took it the worst. Some days I would see tears fall from her eyes for no ­apparent reason, but I knew why. At first our family’s productivity lessened and the days seemed longer. Fortunately my dad provided reassuring words of wisdom and comfort. Amazingly over the next few months my life continued normally, and the cancer drifted to the back of my mind.

I tried to forget about it and concentrate on school, to believe it would all be fine. I learned the importance of optimism and maintaining a normal routine. Luckily this was during the school year, and a routine was easy to maintain. Breakfast, school, basketball, homework, and sleep ­– these made the weeks pass, and fun with friends on the weekends held bad thoughts at bay. The only real change in my dad was a battle scar and a new hairstyle.

My dad is the strongest person I know. He was able to keep our lives normal even while battling this intruder. After weeks of chemo, radiation, and personal struggle, the final score was tallied. The results showed my dad free of cancer with only a scar to show for it. Besides the fact that he now wears a shirt while running, everything has returned to normal.

Whenever the topic of cancer comes up, he makes some joke or tells a ­story to change the subject and keep it from our thoughts. He even kept his new hairstyle. He claims it’s cheaper to shave his head than to go to a barber, but I think he realized he looked a ­little nerdy with long hair.

One day a few weeks ago, my dad thanked me for saving his life. I was utterly confused, but then he ­explained that when I elbowed him in the chest he realized he needed to go ­to the doctor. He joked that if I wasn’t around to be his personal medical practitioner, he might not have caught the cancer until it was too late.

He isn’t the only one who is thankful. My dad showed me how to be strong in
the face of adversity and how with the love of family and friends it is possible to ­overcome even the strongest evil in this world. He and the rest of my family are so important to me that I wouldn’t trade anything in the world for even one day of their company and love.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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This article has 7 comments. Post your own now!

AngelGal07 said...
May 7, 2010 at 10:11 am
i know what it's like to have a family member have cancer.
AprilBlue said...
Apr. 16, 2010 at 6:46 pm
Why aren't there a million comments on this? This has been on my favorite list for a while
PoetSinner said...
Apr. 6, 2010 at 8:54 pm
This was beautiful. Put me in tears. Great work.
Caramel_Apple said...
Dec. 30, 2009 at 4:46 pm
Breast cancer is something that runs in my family. Yes, my great-grandfather had it. My grandmother had it. My mom has her annual visits to the OBGYN. That is the most you can do to prevent getting breast cancer. Men don't normally think about breast cancer, so this wasn't something that your dad could probably have prevented. It's nice to know that your dad is okay.
Melissa S. said...
May 19, 2009 at 12:12 am
I know what you went through, 'cause my aunt had breast cancer, and I'm really close to her. Great story.
fghkjcfygym said...
Jan. 29, 2009 at 6:06 pm
Deep, didn't know a dude could get breast cancer.
MMbbgirl95 said...
Oct. 8, 2008 at 4:04 pm
I like this peice and know what he is going through because my grandpa had cancer and i remember him being strong like his dad.
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